Winzler Requested: SO LIKE MORE OF THIS [Jalen fanboying over Tron] PLZ THX YER HUMBLE SLAVE FOREVER
By the time Tron arrives at the scene, it’s already a mess.
He’d recieved and acknowledged Yori’s distress call fifteen microcycles ago, double-timing it out to the site of the new Sailer junction node at breakneck speeds. On approach he can already see the disintegrating corpses of several gridbugs scattered around the glitching, staticky, half-crumbled scaffolding of the tower. More importantly he can see Jalen, defending Yori and one of the junior compilers—Roark, Tron thinks his name is—from what looks to be the last of the bugs. His cloak is torn to shreds and he’s got a nasty bite wound below one knee, but he’s fighting as hard as any Security program and Tron has never regretted the Disc Wars lessons he’s been giving the ISO architect less.
Jalen finally manages to tear the thing’s head off just as Tron jumps out of the runner to assist. He staggers briefly, but waves off Tron’s attempt to steady him with a hasty “I’m fine!”
“Status report—is everyone alright?” Tron asks, nodding briefly to Jalen before striding quickly over to Yori.
Yori nods at him with a relieved smile. ”Affirmative. We’re fine, if a little banged up. Those bugs hit us out of nowhere, had Roark and I cornered. I got one of them but then the second one ate my staff, if Jalen hadn’t jumped down from the lift—”
Yori’s report is cut off by a yelp and a thud from off to the side, and Tron turns just in time to see Roark shove Jalen to the ground. ”It’s all his fault anyway!” Roark snarls. ”Those bugs would never have set on us if we weren’t forced to work with this glitch magnet, why anyone would let one of them near vital infrastructure in the first place is past my ability to calculate—”
“Roark!” Yori exclaims.
“From where I was standing, it looked to me like the ‘glitch magnet’ was saving your life,” Tron observes mildly. ”And shoving your coworkers around like that—under any circumstance—is a good way to get yourself relegated to error-checking blueprints for the rest of your runtime. Especially when you do it in front of Security.” He punctuates this advice with a pointed stare at Roark, who backs off with a mutter, and turns back to Jalen, offering him a hand. ”All right?”
Jalen just nods quietly and takes the proffered hand, pulling himself back up off the ground and wincing as his injured leg tries to give out under him. He wonders absently if there’s some force out in the wider universe that has it out for him, why the one person on the Grid he admires most short of the Creator himself never fails to walk in on him when he’s at his worst.
“Thank you,” he sighs, once he’s solidly back on his feet. ”I’m sorry about all of this, I—LOOK OUT!”
He knows he’s too late. The gridbug has already reared up behind Tron to strike before the first warning word is even halfway out of his mouth, and he’s still holding Tron’s left hand—his dominant hand, the one he always leads with in their practice matches. Tron never hesitates, though, reaching back with his off hand to undock his disc and whirling smoothly to slice the bug in two, spraying the four of them with gleaming green fragments. He can’t be that fast, no-one’s that fast, Users, I couldn’t even track his movement…!
For several long moments, all Jalen can do is stare at Tron with a goggle-eyed expression of unfettered awe that he hasn’t worn the like of since his earliest cycles. Finally he realizes that he’s still holding onto Tron’s hand and drops it like it were burning.
Someday, Jalen vows to himself as he fights to keep a blush from flashing through his circuits. Someday, Tron will finally see him at his best.